Among the string quartets born in the last decade, few entered the world under such prestigious circumstances as the Albana Berg Quartet, which performed at the NIH Auditorium in Bethesda yesterday afternoon. Formed in 1970 by four professors at Vienna's Academy of Music, the quartet was granted permission by Alban Berg's widow to assume her late husband's name.
Since its debut at the Vienna Konzerthaus in October, 1971, the ensemble has toured extensively and is currently on its fourth American tour, having made its debut in this area at the Library of Congress two years ago.
The special strengths of the Berg Quartet are its sense of proportion in expressive matters and the sharpness of its emotional response. The group's playing possesses a dynamic edge that imparts a sense of freshness to the music, particularly evident in yesterday's Op. 18, No. 1 Quartet of Beethoven.
An occasional unwanted sound and slight intonation problems seemed irrelevant before the group's concentrated and finely disciplined style, which was splendidly displayed in Webern's highly compressed "Six Bagatelles." In both the opening Quartet by Beethoven and his Op. 132, which closed the program, the composer was honored with an interpretation of eceptional perception and vitality.